Men’s Preview: UVM @ UConn (2x)

Peter Karmanos Sucks!

After a draw at home to a solid UNH side last weekend that Kevin Sneddon described as the first 60 (65, really) minute performance of the year, UVM looks to build on it as they head on down to Pucky’s town for a battle with the UConn Huskies.

The start of the first year post-Tage Thompson has…not been kind to UConn. They sit at 2-5-1 and the wins came against Maine and American International. They lost to Sacred Heart, bounced back with a tie at BU, and are coming off a spanking at the hands of Miami by a combined 10-1 score.

I’m a fan of Adam Huska in goal, but he’s been shaky this year with a .893 save percentage. The team in front of him is a positive possession team, although that’s largely due to a terrific 56.9 CF% on the power play; they’re actually net negative at even strength. Defender Johnny Austin leads the team in points with 9, while Alexander Payusov is second in points (8) and tops in goals (6).

Three Things To Watch Out For:

  1. Starting Strong. That is a thing UConn is not good at – they’ve been outscored 15-3 in the first period and outshot 96-74. They’ll be looking to start strong, especially after that 7-1 disaster at Miami on Saturday.
  2. Make the Power Play count. UConn’s penalty kill has been awful so far, operating at a 69% clip. That’s something UVM could exploit, especially after the PP was relatively ineffective against UNH.
  3. UConnov. Up front, UConn’s biggest threats are their two “ov”s, Russian forward Maxim Letunov and the aformentioned Payusov. Anything UConn wants to do offensively usually goes through them.

Games are Friday at 7 and Saturday at 3:30. Stuck behind a paywall because UConn isn’t in 2017.

Go Cats.

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RECAP: UVM (M) 4, #14 UNH 4

It’s fitting that the last game before Halloween, much like the Michael Jackson song that’s been a staple of Halloween for decades, was a THRILLER.

After some tough losses to Michigan, the Catamounts went out and actually put together 60 solid minutes (65, actually), but an opportunistic UNH side led by Danny Tirone’s excellent effort kept them from two points.

The Catamounts DOMINATED the first period with a 16-5 shot advantage. But Tirone made save after save after save and UVM just couldn’t finish.

Which of course means UNH opened the scoring in the second. Power play goal, Max Gildon continuing his white-hot start to his NCAA career by feeding Michael McNicholas backdoor for a tap-in. Both defenders were occupied, O’Donnell was pressuring Gildon while Grant was covering Patrick Grosso and didn’t see McNicholas.

UVM managed to fight back pretty quickly. Alvaro with a shot right off the faceoff. It’s not in the highlight pack so I can’t analyze it.

Couple minutes later, though, and UNH is ahead again. Ara Nazarian was denied on the breakaway by Lekkas, but he sticks with the play and scores, although I’m still not sure how the puck went in.

At the end of the period, Evers takes a really dumb penalty by pushing down Salvaggio after the whistle. It means little in the second, but sets the stage for the third.

First minute of the third, Puffer with a beauty of a shot to tie the game shorthanded. That’s back-to-back games where UVM had a shortie (Kaufman had one against Michigan). Someone with more patience than me should look up when the last time that happened was.

But then, with Evers still in the box about 30 seconds later, UNH goes ahead, deflating a hyped Gutterson. Nazarian potting one from close range just outside the crease. That was a real buzzkill after a huge, huge shorty.

The next goal for UNH to put them up 2 was essentially another power play tally, as Colton had JUST come out of the box when Brendan van Riemsdyk buried a rebound past Lekkas. Could’ve used a defenseman near the crease to prevent stuff like that. At that point I was basically resigned to defeat.

Luckily, the squad wasn’t.

Less than three minutes later, Misley takes a shot from a terrible angle, but Tirone’s save rebounds right to O’Donnell who isn’t missing with a half-open net. It’s 4-3, and the Gutt is rocking again.

Late in the game, Marcus Vela takes a penalty (we’ll discuss him more later). UVM pulls Lekkas for the 6v4 advantage. The pressure rises, the Gutt gets louder, and the Cats cash in.

Evers gets the puck at the point and puts it on goal. Tirone saves, but the rebound is loose. Lodermeier shovels it out, and O’Donnell buries his second of the period to tie the game with 34.3 seconds to go. Gutterson ERUPTED.

Nothing going in an OT which UVM largely dominated, with the best chance being a Colton shot that hit the post.

Some thoughts:

  • I criticized The Den after the Saturday game against Colorado College. Well, last night it was great, so I’ll give some credit. (I also loved the random “Aussie Aussie Aussie! OI OI OI!” chant. It was so out of context that it was glorious.)
  • I really liked the top 3 lines (Privitera-Colton-Puffer, Misley-Lodermeier-Esposito, Alvaro-Darrar-Bowen). I think they should stay that way for the forseeable future. That second line in particular looked real good.
  • As for the bottom line, really impressed by Kaufman…Petruzzelli and Best, not so much, I’m not even sure they played in the third.
  • This was my first chance to see Brian Kelly in a game since preseason. He didn’t play a ton, but I thought he looked solid back there.
  • Outside of that tying goal, the power play was hot garbage.
  • And speaking of power plays, I’m half convinced that Marcus Vela was a sleeper agent trying to hand the game to UVM. FIVE minor penalties, yeesh.
  • I think Harmon should start one of the UConn games next weekend. Lekkas looks a bit tired, and this was probably his weakest game of the year.
  • Shot attempts were 77-44 in favor of UVM. Yeah. That’s more like the team I watched last year. Sneddon said postgame that the team seems to be finding its identity again.

The Vermont Hockey Blog Three Stars of the Game

  1. Matt O’Donnell (UVM) – 3 points, including two goals in the third to tie it. Ice in his veins.
  2. Ara Nazarian (UNH) – Also had 3 points, also in a 2+1.
  3. Danny Tirone (UNH) – If he wasn’t so sharp in the first it could’ve been 3-0 UVM and a completely different game.

Women’s Preview: UVM @ Merrimack (2x)

After a weekend with some ups (4 goals on Friday and giving BC a heckuva fight on Sunday) and downs (blowing a lead to UNH), UVM women head back on the road to North Andover to take on Merrimack.

In my season preview, I called the Warriors “a young program and a young team with a lot of promise.” And though they sit 3-4-2 in the young season, they have cashed in on some of that promise, most notably that 4-3 win over Minnesota on opening night that stunned the women’s hockey world. They also beat BU on opening night, and skated to a 0-0 against a top team in St. Lawrence.

The reason for this? They have two bona fide studs in net. I’ve raved about Léa-Kristine Demers ever since I saw her steal a game for Mack at the Gutt last season. But Samantha Ridgewell has looked good early as well, with a .936 SV% plus one shutout (the 0-0 at Lawler).

Three Things to Watch Out For:

  1. Finish Strong. Both teams have struggled in the third period so far. UVM has been outscored 9-3 and outshot 79-53; Merrimack has been outscored 5-2 and outshot 93-60. Something’s gotta give.
  2. Musical Goalies. Neither team has really had a clear-cut #1 goalie emerge, with their starters and backups rotating. I think both teams will see both goalies play this weekend.
  3. Goals By Committee. Merrimack is not a team that offensively relies on one player or one line. Nine players have scored at least one goal, and fourteen have posted at least a point. UVM has also been strong in this aspect, so it’s something to watch: who will step up?

Games are 7pm Friday and 2pm Saturday at Lawler Rink. They seem to be stuck behind a paywall. (GET IT TOGETHER PEOPLE. IT’S 2017.)

Go Cats.

Men’s Preview: #14 UNH @ UVM

Well, last weekend sucked, and six games in my hopes for this season have gone from “top 5 and a possible NCAA berth” to “get through the Octofinals.” It’s time for a bounceback, and there’s no better team to bounce back against than a twin state rival who definitely is not good this year and will be a bottom 3 team in conference play, as I predicted in my preview…Wait, they’re 5-1-0 including a sweep of Lowell? …well that was unexpected. Turns out Max Glidon (6 goals and 7 points) is one heckuva defenseman, and Charlie Kelleher (6 assists and 7 points) is taking after his brother quite well. Danny Tirone (.932 SV%) has also been competent in goal for the first time in a couple years.

Three Things to Look Out For:

  1. Home Cooking. UVM were 13-6-1 at Gutterson Fieldhouse last year, and being back at home after some tough road Ls could help improve the team’s morale.
  2. The Second Period. UNH does most of their damage in the middle frame, outscoring opponents 14-4 in the second. UVM’s been even in the second, but outshot horribly in the frame on average (74-44). This is going to be key this weekend.
  3. Will the real Tirone Please Stand Up? He’s gotten off to a flying start this season, but four of his starts came against teams that were bottom-5 offensively last season (Colgate and Colorado College). Is this the real Tirone, or is he a paper tiger?

Game is Saturday on CatamounTV.

Go Cat(amount)s.

Men’s Preview: UVM @ Michigan (x2)

Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor is one of college hockey’s most iconic venues. And this weekend, UVM takes a trip there to do battle with a Michigan team that they put to the sword at home last year in the Wolverines’ home opener.

I’ll say one thing: UVM has the support of two schools this weekend. I moderate the college hockey subreddit, and probably the largest fan base we have there is that of Michigan Tech. They are very bitter over the Mel Pearson/Tech divorce. So that’s a thing, I guess.

Pearson did some great things at Tech, and now he’s filling in the shoes left by the legendary Red Berenson. That said, his team is still young and growing, and started the season with a split in the North Country (a 3-1 win over St. Lawrence followed by a 3-0 loss to a Clarkson team that has impressed early).

They’re still trying to figure out a #1 goalie. Hayden Lavigne and Jack LaFontaine basically split time with since-graduated Zach Nagelvoort last season, and both split the first weekend of the season (Lavigne starting against Clarkson and LaFontaine at SLU). I’d expect those two to split duty this weekend. Lavigne was pretty impressive against UVM last season.

Defense is interesting. Last year only two Wolverine defenders  finished with more than ten points, and Nolan de Jong graduated, leaving only senior Sam Piazza. Michigan was also an awful possession team last year, finishing 57th of 60 teams in even-strength Corsi. They do have some promising talent in the form of Quinn Hughes, a projected first rounder in the 2018 NHL Draft, Luke Martin, a Carolina draft pick (they’ve been good at getting defenders from college hockey), and Joseph Cecconi, a Dallas Stars draft pick and World Junior champion with the US who was around with the Connor-Compher-Motte-Werenski show of 2015/16.

Up front was where Michigan had some serious problems last year, with only Will Lockwood and Jake Slaker breaking 20 points. They’re both back, as is Cooper Marody, who posted 15 points in 18 games after missing the first half of the season due to academic ineligibility. Tony Calderone, their only 10-goal scorer, also returns. In terms of newcomers, the ace for the team is Sharks first round pick Josh Norris.

Yost is one of the toughest places in college hockey to play. But there’s no better time to play a young team than early when they’re still gelling.

Games are Friday at 7:30 and Saturday at 5. They’re stuck behind a paywall on BTN Plus. (Big Ten hockey even ruining free streaming!!)

Go Cats.

Women’s Preview: UNH @ UVM

100th post on the blog, woo! Thanks to everyone who’s read this blog over the last year-plus!

But I’m not here to toot my own horn. I’m here to talk hockey. And tomorrow will see a twin-state rivalry renewed as Vermont hosts New Hampshire in women’s hockey.

In their season preview, I mentioned that the Wildcats rolled with a Hilary Cashin-Kyra Smith tandem in goal last year, and both return. However, it’s been freshman Ava Boutilier that’s gotten the bulk of the work. UNH has started the season off strong with a 2-0-1 record (a win and a tie in a home-and-home with Merrimack followed by a 9-1 embarrassment of future Hockey East foe Holy Cross). UVM will hope to fire up some home cooking and build momentum from Saturday’s bounceback performance at Quinnipiac ahead of a Sunday showdown with Boston College.

Three Things to Look Out For:

  1. Wildcat Momentum. UNH put Holy Cross to the sword last weekend, and have yet to lose a game in 2017/18. They’re going to be flowing with confidence when they come to Gutterson.
  2. Stay Out of the Box. Both teams have gone 4 for 16 on the power play so far this year, tied for third in the nation. UVM’s PK gave up three goals against Quinnipiac after being perfect through three games, so they’ll need to cut down on penalties and bounce back on the PK when they do visit the box.
  3. Home Cooking. Last season, the home team did not lose a single game in the season series. Protecting home ice is huge, especially for a Catamount team that’s been on the road for 3 straight weekends.

Puck drop is 7pm tomorrow night at Gutterson and will be on CatamounTV.

Go Cats!

Women’s Preview: UVM @ Quinnipiac (2x)

After a strong home opener, UVM women’s hockey now heads on the road for two down in Hamden against Quinnipiac. (Saturday UVM @ QU doubleheader, too, with the women’s game coming right after the men’s!)

The Bobcats are coming off their fifth consecutive 20-win season, going 21-10-6 last season before losing to Princeton in an airtight three-game series in the ECAC tournament. So far this year, they’ve made like a Croatian coastal city and split their first two series (a road series at Maine and a home and home against Providence). Their offense has struggled with just six goals in their 4 games. However, as you’ll see, defense was their MO last year.

Starting at the back, this team had to replace a fairly solid keeper in Sydney Rossman, who graduated after posting a .929 as a senior. Sophomore Abbie Ives backed her up last season with a remarkable .983 (albeit in very limited duty), and has started strong this year with a .947 in the first four games, including a 37 save shutout of a talented Providence team last time out. Her backup is freshman Alison Small, who was shaky in her first start and was subsequently pulled.

The defense sees a mix of youth and experience. Two of their top four from last year have graduated (Taryn Baumgardt and Emma Greco), but the rest return, and are aided by Finnish international Anna Kilponen, a junior who transferred to Q following the shuttering of North Dakota women’s hockey. Junior Kate McKenzie has started strong, while senior Alicia Barry comes off a 10 point junior year and sophomore Kati Tabin has started strong.

The Bobcats did lose some talent up top with the graduation of Emma Woods and Meghan Turner (45 points combined), but a pair of sophomores have come out strong following some freshman struggles. Sarah-Ève Coutu-Godbout posted only 6 points last season and is already halfway to matching that this year while Abby Cleary has already surpassed her freshman point total of 2 (they co-lead the team in scoring at present). Their top two scorers, Taylar Cianfarano and Melissa Samoskevich, both return as well, although the former missed the Providence series.

Games are 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday. If you’re going to the men’s game Saturday, why not stick around and watch the women? Both will be streamed free on ESPN3.

Go Cats!

Men’s Preview: UVM @ #17 Quinnipiac, UVM @ Union

We’re going to do both weekend games in one, partially because I feel like it, partially because we’re back in the land of tech issues.

It’s an ECAC road trip this weekend as UVM rematches two teams they played last season. We’ll start first with the Bobcats, who UVM crushed 5-1 in Belfast last year and plays on Saturday afternoon.

It’s safe to say that after the Belfast fail Quinnipiac’s season basically fell apart a year ago. They would go on to lose five of their next seven games and only ended the year ranked after a run to the ECAC semifinals, where they lost to Harvard; they wound up missing the NCAAs for the first time in five years. Both their games this year were at home against Beanpot schools, both went to OT, and neither ended in a Q win (a 1-1 tie against BC and a 3-2 loss to BU).

In goal, the Bobcats have split time their first weekend between sophomore Andrew Shortridge and Red Wings draftee and freshman Keith Petruzzelli. Petruzzelli comes in with some serious hype; at one point last year some rated him higher in the draft than Jake Oettinger. Shortridge meanwhile is the incumbent, posting a solid .920 last season (it was really the backup, graduated senior Chris Truehl, that let them down last year). I’d guess Shortridge starts, but I’m never good at predicting starting goalies, so Petruzzelli will probably start to make me look dumb.

The Bobcats defense looks to be a strong point, with a lot of talent and depth. The name that jumps out to me is Latvian U20 international Kārlis Čukste, who posted 15 points as a freshman and looked good for his nation at the World Juniors. Captain Chase Priskie (26 points), along with Brogan Rafferty (24) and Kevin McKernan (14) also bring offense, while they also added talented Brandon Fortunato (22 points with BU in 2015/16) via transfer, who brings plenty of big-game experience with him.

Forward is where Quinnipiac struggled last year, as their goals per game went from nearly 4 goals per game in 2015/16 to just over 3 last year after early departures and graduations. They do have a lot of key returners, with just 2 of their top 7 forward scorers graduating. They also have a strong newcomer in last year’s AJHL top scorer Matt Forchuk (97 points). They’re stronger there than last season, in my opinion, and it’ll be an early test for a young UVM defense.

Game is 4pm on Saturday and will be on ESPN3 for free!


While Q may have returned a ton of key players, the same cannot be said of the Union Dutchmen. After making the NCAAs last year and promptly getting steamrolled by Penn State, they lost a number of important pieces. And it’s shown in their 0-3-0 start, which included a 6-3 loss at the hands of a Michigan Tech Huskies side with a brand-new head coach.

In goal, last year’s starter was Alex Sakellaropoulos. Luckily for me as a writer I never have to spell that again, as he’s graduated. New starter Jake Kupsky, a junior and San Jose draftee, has shown some promise in his first three games as a #1, including a 39 save effort on opening night against BU. He’s backed up by junior Joe Young and freshman Darion Hanson.

On the blueline this team lost a huge player in Jeff Taylor (33 points) as well as solid contributor Nick DeSimone (19 points). They do have some returning talent (Vas Kolias had 12 points as a freshman, for example), but this team already struggled defensively last season and now they’ve lost their two best.

Up front, the obvious narrative is the graduation of Mike Vecchione and the early departure of Spencer Foo, both of whom posted over 60 points last season. That being said, there’s still plenty of talent here. Sebastian Vidmar had a huge sophomore year with 41 points, and Brett Supinksi added 35. They also added two talented draft picks in Jack Adams, who posted 60 points in the USHL with Fargo, and Foo’s brother Parker, who put up 66 points in the AJHL last year.

But if there’s one thing about Union, it’s that they’re excellently coached. Rick Bennett is a top 10 coach in the college game, especially with the Dutchmen not having as many resources (small rink + less scholarships).

Game is 4pm Sunday and viewing it is stuck behind a paywall.

Recap: UVM (W) 7, Union 0

“It’s an opportunity to get the confidence up and build some momentum after a somewhat shaky first two games.” –Me on this blog, two days ago.

Well, they got the confidence boosted and momentum built. And some history made. In a home opener!

Four goals from Ève-Audrey Picard, the most in a single game since UVM went varsity in 1998 (and first time a UVM woman did it since Jen Brennan scored four in a 17-0 win over BU in January 1995). A seven-goal margin of victory, the largest since Tom Brennan was still coaching UVM men’s basketball.

The Cats opened the scoring late in the first. Picard opens her account in what I like to call a beautiful accident. Looking at it on replay, it looks like she tried to square it to Saana Valkama, but instead it banked off of the skate of Union defender Ava Reynolds past Kate Spooner.

UVM actually seemed to start the second a bit shaky…but when it started raining, it started pouring. And what a way for the downpour to begin. I’m just going to leave the goal gif of Picard’s second here:

giphy (14)

Yeah. I’m still in disbelief that I saw that happen live. What an individual effort. The poke check! The speed through the neutral zone! The sheer patience trying to wait out Spooner! The finish! Everything was just amazing!

Third goal comes about two minutes later on the PK. Alyssa Gorecki gets on a breakaway and finishes high blocker on Spooner. Great release, a 3-0 lead, and that was the night for Kate Spooner as Amelia Murray replaced her.

But that didn’t really change much, as UVM scored just under six minutes later as Picard wrapped up her hat trick. The puck movement was sublime: Gorecki finds Valkama behind the net, who finds Picard in front for the tap in. 4-0. Hat trick. Gutterson has seen 2 hat tricks in 4 days between Picard and Ross Colton’s hatty for the men on Saturday.

Fifth goal comes from Ali O’Leary, who does extremely well to avoid the pressure from Helen Markovic, dangling her way in to beat Murray blocker side.

Early in the third saw UVM’s sixth and Picard’s fourth. Murray stopped the initial backhander, but Sierra Lee attempts a no-look backhanded clearance, not realizing Picard was right there. One corner picked later, it’s 6-0.

Final goal comes about two minutes later. Mackenzie MacNeil tries a wraparound, Murray’s there, but the puck floats to Kristina Shanahan, who scores her first collegiate goal, going high glove side on Murray, who would be replaced by Coco Francis to end the game.

Some thoughts:

  • I don’t think I can say a single player looked anything worse than “good”. But there were a few standouts who looked like world beaters out there. Gorecki and Picard are obvious, but I thought Amanda Drobot played one hell of a game.
  • Shanahan’s backcheck on a Union 2-on-1 (with both defenders caught up the ice) is one of the more underrated plays from this game.
  • GREAT to have Taylor Willard back. This team really missed her. Not only because she’s the team’s #1 defender and has been for some time now, but also because she’s the captain.
  • Union just looked gassed in that third period. The two weekend games plus the travel from Pennsylvania to Vermont just had them knackered by the third. (Trust me, I’ve made the PA -> VT trip so many times that I can relate.)
  • I posted this on Twitter, but the 7 goals UVM scored were the most since February 1, 2015 (a 7-3 win over Providence at Gutterson featuring a Dayna Colang hat trick), and the 7 goal margin of victory was the most since an 8-0 smackdown of Sacred Heart on October 29, 2004.
  • Melissa Black only had to make 10 saves, but she did need help from the post to preserve the shutout – Union had one in the third ring off the pipe that many sitting near me thought had gone in.
  • On to a couple tough games at Quinnipiac this weekend.

Women’s Preview: Union @ UVM

After a big 2-1 W at UConn, the women head back to Gutterson on Tuesday to open the home portion of their schedule against the Union Dutchwomen.

After a winless 2015/16, new head coach Josh Sciba had nowhere to go but up. And the Dutchwomen did improve, posting a 5-28-1 record. They’ve still got a ways to go before being considered a respectable team, but it literally can’t get any worse than that 2015/16 season. They’ve gone winless in their first three, but did show some signs, going up 3-1 against Providence and earning a road draw at Penn State. They will be a bit tired coming up to UVM, having played at University Park this weekend and making the ~8 hour drive north. Vermont has also won all 20 meetings between the two sides.

Goaltending is Union’s strong suit. Each of their 3 goalies has seen some time this year. The incumbent is Kate Spooner, a sophomore who posted a promising .919 behind a bad team last season. Backup Amelia Murphy also returns; she had a shaky 2016/17 (.889 SV%) and stopped 34 of 37 in her first game this year, a 3-1 loss to the Nittany Lions. They’re challenged by newcomer Coco Francis, who looked very good in the 1-1 tie on Saturday, making 27 saves. I have no idea who’s going to start; my gut says Sciba will roll with the hot hand and go with Francis.

The Dutchwomen’s two leading scorers right now are actually defenders. Senior Caitlyn McLaren was their leading blueline scorer last year with 11 points, and has two so far in the young season, while junior Arianna Kosakowski has four (she had six all of last season). Union lacked depth on D last year, with just five defenders playing all season, but this year they have seven, all of whom have played. Two of the freshmen, Megan Ryan and Hannah Schultz, already have their first college points in the bag. They have conceded a ton of shots though, with 115 shots against in 3 games.

Up front is where Union really struggles; their leading scorer (a four-way tie) had 11 points last year; amongst that four-way tie was a graduating senior and a defender. So far, only one of their five goals on the year came through a forward in the form of freshman Helen Markovic. It doesn’t help that sophomore Haley Shugart has yet to play this season. One player to watch is Angelica Melone, a former US development camp invitee (and a former teammate of UVM freshman Val Caldwell at Chicago Mission).

Look, this is D-I college hockey. There’s no such thing as an easy game. But given Union’s recent history, this is a game you have to win. It’s an opportunity to get the confidence up and build some momentum after a somewhat shaky first two games.

Game is Tuesday at 7 at Gutterson, will be on CatamounTV.

Go Cats.